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Full text of "On an Inscription in the Ruined Church of Rathmore, County Meath"

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Vallancey gives the following account of its discovery : 

"This broach was discovered by apeasant, turning up the ground 
on the hill of Bally spillan, on the farm of Charles Byrne, Esq., the 
estate of Lord Ashbrook, in the barony of Galmoy, in the county of 
Kilkenny, in the month of September, 1 806." — Collectanea, vol. vii. 
p. 149. 

The front of the brooch is ornamented by a device of en- 
twined serpents, such as is met with frequently on objects of 
the same kind. The back presents four lines of writing in the 
Ogham character, which read thus : 

TTlinooop muao 
Cnaempeoch Ceallach 
TTlaeoluaoais maeolmaipeo. 

Mr. William Halliday, using the ordinary key, deciphered 
these words pretty correctly ; but in translating them he had 
gone astray, in consequence of his not perceiving that, with the 
exception of the second, they are all proper names. 

Professor Graves, hoping by means of the names to de- 
termine the date of the inscription, requested Mr. Eugene 
Curry to search for them amongst the pedigrees of the families 
which have inhabited the district where the brooch was found. 
The search was not fruitless; the name Cnaemr-eoch, a name 
of rare occurrence, was found in a genealogy in the Book of 
Lecan (folio 108 b. col. 2), as belonging to a person in that 
country, the fourteenth in descent from Guaimr-nama, who, as 
we learn from the Annals of the Four Masters, was killed 
a. d. 676. Allowing thirty years to a generation, this would 
bring the time of Cnaempeoch down to about the year 1100. 
The names Ceallach and TTlaeolmaipeo are too common to be 
of any use in ascertaining the date of the brooch, or the iden- 
tity of the other persons named on it. 

J. Huband Smith, Esq., exhibited to the Academy a fac 
simile made from a rubbing of an ancient inscription in the 


ruined church of Rathmore, near Kells, in the county of 
Meath. This inscription remains on a stone tablet inserted 
in the southern wall of the interior of this church. The tablet 
measures three feet and one inch in length, by one foot and 
three inches in height ; and is said to hare been originally 
placed above the northern porch, a supposition which the 
terms of the inscription appear to favour. The words are 
much contracted, and are elegantly cut, in the black letter 
character of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The in- 
scription runs thus : 

©rate p atab* Gtetofort $Iuket He Hatfimore J¥ttltt s (J 
Hfcatne $fton uxt's ei s q crate lapfoea infra btUa ista ante 
rimiteriu costructerut g gorticu istu et oib° ante truce pbicta 
otctnt* pr nr % abe nta p aiab* fctoru ©stofott $ Hatne % 
parentu suoru cocessu est fcucent tries inbulgecte p b epos i 
coci $biciali tottes qties $etufe tepib* buratarfe. gt° tent 
J$l n ccccc°xix B . 

Without the contractions, it reads as follows : 


This porch has long since fallen to the ground, and the 
whole church is now a ruin of much picturesque beauty ; the 
great eastern window, and a square tower of considerable 
height, still presenting objects of no little interest to the lovers 
of ecclesiastical architecture and antiquities. 

The Plunkets of Rathmore were a distinguished branch 
of a family long settled in the county of Meath ; and Chris- 


topher Plunket, whose name occurs in this inscription, was 
the son of Alexander Plunket, who was made Lord Chan- 
cellor of Ireland 1 1th June, 1492, and died in the year 1500. 

The inscription is one of some value, not only as one of 
the few existing records of the objects had in view by persons 
who erected churchyard and way-side crosses in Ireland, but 
also as recording the holding of a provincial council by five 
bishops, of which, possibly, no other memorial has survived. 
The tombstone of the same Christopher Plunket, which is in 
another part of this church, states his death to have occurred 
on the fifth day of March, in the year 1519, the same year in 
which the above-mentioned tablet records the erection of the 
cross. His wife appears, by the blanks left in the following 
inscription for the date of her decease, to have survived him. 

The inscription on this tombstone is as follows : 

" Hie jacet Cristoforus Plunket de Rathmore, Miles, cum 
Domina Katerina Preston uxore sua. Obiit quinto die men- 
sis Martii Anno Domini M° CCCCC° XIX. Et dicta Ka- 
terina obiit ... die mensis Anno Domini 

Quorum animabus propicietur Deus, Amen." 

The base of the cross yet remains in the churchyard, on 
the north side of the church. Its shaft and cruciform head 
are probably buried somewhere in the ruins. A few words, 
however, of a mutilated inscription on the base, in which the 
name and date are yet discernible, sufficiently identify it with 
the cross referred to in the tablet above described. Rathmore 
was originally the estate of the Cruises, and was brought into 
the Plunket family by the marriage of Thomas Plunket with 
Maria Cruise. On the still remaining base of across with eccle- 
siastical figures, on the demesne of Killeen, is this inscription : 
" Thomas Plunket — Maria Cruys." 

And the obit of Sir Thomas Plunket is thus given in the 
Killeen mortiloge, Cusake MSS. : 

" Obitus Thome Plunket militis dni de Rathmore, Capitus 
Iustic' Do. Regis Hibn. qui obiit xiii. die Junii, Anno dn 
m.cccc.lxx i°." 


The tombstone of Christopher Plunket and Dame Ka- 
therine Preston, before mentioned, bears the arms of Plunket, 
Preston, and Molyneaux (called on it Molines) ; Katherine 
Preston being the daughter of Robert Lord Gormanston, by 
his wife, Genet, daughter of Sir Richard Molyneaux. See 
Lodge's Peerage, Arehdall's Edit., vol. Hi., page 245." 

There are several other monuments within this church, 
well worthy of attention. One represents an armed knight, 
in a very elegant and peculiar coat of mail, and having an in- 
scription round the edge, which, though much defaced, might 
yet be, in part at least, recovered. Another, being a portion, 
as may be presumed, of a monument of considerable impor- 
tance, has been let into the wall of the church, and is sculptured 
with eight shields, seven of which contain various coats of 
arms, and the eighth the emblems of the passion of our Lord. 

It is deserving of the highest commendation that these 
ruins are, with good taste and good feeling, protected from 
wanton or idle injury by the tenant of the adjoining farm ; 
who, not long since, at his own expense, preserved the beau- 
tiful east window from being lost, having judiciously replaced 
some of the stone mullions, which, loosened by the hand of 
Time, had fallen down, and the want of whose support threat- 
ened to bring the whole of the tracery speedily to the ground. 

Dr. Lentaigne presented, on the part of Mr. Peter Quit], 
some portions of a skeleton, an urn, and a fragment of another, 
all found on the townland of Kiltalown, close to the boun- 
dary of Killinarden, and in the parish of Tallaght, on the 
lands of John Robinson, Esq. 

These ancient remains were discovered last week, by the 
tenant of the land, Mr. Quin, who was endeavouring to clear 
and level a furzy field, situated near the top of the ridge of 
the hill of Tallaght. Oh removing some of the surface clay 
of a low mound, he first found a quantity of broken stones, and 
under them a large stone. He supposed this to be the quarry 
that appeared in several places through the soil in the imme-